Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday's Resolution {To Count Myself Vile}

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We are picking apart Jonathan Edward's 70 Resolutions, one week and one resolution at a time. Don't forget to start where he did- "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

My paraphrase:

8. Resolved, to act in every word and deed, as if no one else was as wicked as me, and as if I had done just the same sins, or had the same sin problems and character weaknesses as others; and that I when I find out about the sin of someone else, I will allow it do nothing in me but make me feel ashamed of myself, and make it an opportunity only of repenting of my own sins and wretched, fallen nature, to God.

Pride is a funny, sneaky, little monster. He creeps into our thoughts when we least expect him, and causes us to forget how weak, and little, and sinful, and insignificant we really are.

When we see a sister or brother fall, it can be so easy to puff out our chest, and condescendingly stare down our noses at them.

We may appear to be helpful or loving on the outside, but inside we are haughty and self-righteous, comparing our virtues to their lack, our strengths to their weaknesses, our sufficiency to their inability.

Oh how we need a reality check! NEWS FLASH: we are all sinners! Even our "righteous" good deeds are filthy rags before our holy God, they are so tainted with imperfection and unholy motivation.

And even the Apostle Paul said that nothing good dwelt in him, apart from Christ. If nothing good (except for Christ!) dwelt in Paul, I sure as day have no hope of beating that!

Sometimes the pride monster manifests himself in subtler tones.

Impatience with your husband when he fails to meet your expectations, excessive irritation with a disobedient child, and mental character assaults on people who are more successful (or intelligent, or attractive, you fill in the blank!) than you all spawn from pride.

"Why can't he read my mind? Why doesn't he do this one thing for me, when I do all of these other things for him?"

"Why can't my kid conform to my standard of righteousness? I deserve better obedience from them!"

"That woman may have a nicer house than me, but she sure isn't the greatest mother. If I had those nice things, I would be a credit to the Lord. I may not ever get them, but I can be content because I know that I am really better off than she is."

None of this will do. True Christians must see themselves for what they are: vile, wretched, abominable sinners. No good apart from Christ, no hope without His grace, no chance of goodness unless if it is imparted to their account by the God-man.

An older woman once gave me truly wise counsel which I have never since forgotten. "Rachel, you must learn to see other people's sin as very small, and yours as very big."

Jonathan Edward's eighth Resolution carries on much in the same strain. We must, with Paul, see ourselves as the "Chief of sinners." No one so desperate, so void of hope and grace, as our own souls.

When we hear about so-and-so's sin, instead of inwardly looking down the nose of pride, it ought to remind us of our own utter sinfulness and unworthiness before a Holy God. Knowledge of the weaknesses and defects of others ought to send us to our knees in humble, prostrate confession.

It must force us to acknowledge, "but for the grace of God, there go I." Apart from His grace, I might have done the same, or worse. I might even still do so!

Pride goes before a fall. Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, in full awareness of our own
insufficiency, lest He humble us with His own mighty hand by a greater fall into sin and misery.

And let's remember that love covers a multitude of sins. We can show the love of Christ to others by choosing to forgive petty sins against us, and moving on.

Do you see yourself as the worst of sinners? Practically speaking, how do you lovingly cover the sins of others? Do you see your sin as big and others' sin as small?

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